Good Fish, Bad Fish

From the site Bible Sharing Online

Gospel, Matthew 13:47-53 49 This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the upright…

The rejection of evil a powerful thing.  Still, what if that evil hits close to home?  Maybe it’s because of the rally on Tuesday, (Women Betrayed), but I am thinking of all those women who came to me when I was director of Project Rachel.  These women told stories of family member rejection.

I am thinking of the moms I have journeyed with who caught their children in compromising situation with drugs, trouble with the law, or sex.

I am thinking of the women who come to speak with me who tell stories of wounds so deep that they believe God will never forgive them.

Certainly if you sit in a pew at any Mass and your heart is heavy, you will hear condemnation.  That is because that is where your heart is, not how God sees you.

If we have not dealt with those wounded places in our lives; those places that cause us to hide from God as Adam and Eve did when they were naked in the Garden, then we see only our offense.  So, we ask, is this Gospel only about throwing out the wicked and keeping the good?  Does that mean there is no way to change, we are just condemned to be throw out?

No, of course not.

Read further in the Gospel and Jesus says: 51 And he said to them, ‘Well then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of Heaven a householder who brings out from his storeroom new things as well as old.’

New things for old.  New habits for old.  New perspectives for old.  New ways of communicating and viewing fallen away family members.  New ways of self-speaking with ourselves.

In the Psalms, we read for Lent there is great wisdom on how to create this transformation.

  • First: we recognize our woundedness, our sin, our turning away from all who love us.  This we do out of deep guilt.
  • Second: we recognize that God is merciful. He is slow to anger.  We can also be slow to anger if we acknowledge the emotion but put it aside for a moment to hear the other person out, or to hear ourselves out when we pray and self-talk with ourselves.
  • Third: we have to be truthful with ourselves about what we have done.  We may recognize we are wounded or sinful, but recognizing is different then saying: “Yes this is what I have done!”  Once we understand what we have done, how it has affected us and those around us we can begin to make major changes.  That is what the Psalmist means when he wrote: Ps 51:5 For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me.
  • Fourth: God’s Grace and healing. Ps 51:3 Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.  This is what happens in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We speak with our Priest.  God, through him, speaks to us of ways to start to heal, to start to change. Ps 51:8 Behold, you desire true sincerity; and secretly you teach me wisdom.

For today, my prayer for all of us is that we bring out of our storerooms the old and new, change the old and rejoice in the new.

FYI Wednesday: Why won’t my kids go to Mass?

English: Vid Gajšek's documentary fineart digi...

It’s FYI Wednesday and I have asked fellow Catholic moms for questions that they might have on such topics as motherhood and spirituality, children’s spiritual development, finding time for yourself, or just to learn more about Spiritual Direction; here is the latest question asked by  Ali:

Q: What have I done wrong that my kids don’t like going to Mass?

A:  You haven’t said how old your children are, so I am just going to explore all ages of spiritual development.  Here is Fowler’s* stage of spiritual development:

Stage 0“Primal or Undifferentiated” faith (birth to 2 years), is characterized by an early learning of the safety of their environment (i.e. warm, safe and secure vs. hurt, neglect and abuse). If consistent nurture is experienced, one will develop a sense of trust and safety about the universe and the divine. Conversely, negative experiences will cause one to develop distrust with the universe and the divine. Transition to the next stage begins with integration of thought and languages which facilitates the use of symbols in speech and play.

  • Stage 1“Intuitive-Projective” faith (ages of three to seven), is characterized by the psyche’s unprotected exposure to the Unconscious, and marked by a relative fluidity of thought patterns.  Religion is learned mainly through experiences, stories, images, and the people that one comes in contact with.
  • Stage 2“Mythic-Literal” faith (mostly in school children), stage two persons have a strong belief in the justice and reciprocity of the universe, and their deities are almost always anthropomorphic. During this time metaphors and symbolic language are often misunderstood and are taken literally.
  • Stage 3“Synthetic-Conventional” faith (arising in adolescence; aged 12 to adulthood) characterized by conformity to religious authority and the development of a personal identity. Any conflicts with one’s beliefs are ignored at this stage due to the fear of threat from inconsistencies.
  • Stage 4“Individuative-Reflective” faith (usually mid-twenties to late thirties) a stage of angst and struggle. The individual takes personal responsibility for his or her beliefs and feelings. As one is able to reflect on one’s own beliefs, there is an openness to a new complexity of faith, but this also increases the awareness of conflicts in one’s belief.
  • Stage 5“Conjunctive” faith (mid-life crisis) acknowledges paradox and transcendence relating reality behind the symbols of inherited systems. The individual resolves conflicts from previous stages by a complex understanding of a multidimensional, interdependent “truth” that cannot be explained by any particular statement.
  • Stage 6“Universalizing” faith, or what some might call “enlightenment.” The individual would treat any person with compassion as he or she views people as from a universal community, and should be treated with universal principles of love and justice.

*Professor James W. Fowler, a developmental psychologist at Emory University who defines faith as an activity of trusting, committing, and relating to the world based on a set of assumptions of how one is related to others and the world.

Note:  I will never advise anyone to do anything that isn’t always prayerfully considered.  We must balance our desire to have our children in church with any conversation they may be having with God.  The Holy Spirit is always working.

If you have small children, it is often very hard to keep them engaged while at something they do not yet understand and so are very frustrated by.  It is perfectly OK to have little books and quiet toys for the child to play with.  You can try redirecting their attention to important points of the Mass explaining that Jesus is here.  Here is a great article on helping very young children get the most out of Mass.  As for older children, after about the age of 13 – 20.  These young people are at a healthy stage of questioning everything they have learned.  This is healthy because they are using critical thinking skills that will help them later in life.  Our job at this stage is to be ever watchful about his peer group.  Who is he hanging around?  What is he doing with them?  Should I intervene?

Helping teens and young adults become more involved with Church may help them stay more involved with their faith.  It is also a good time to have serious discussions with your teen and young adult to see what her thoughts are about faith.  Now, here is were praying to the Holy Spirit will be critical.  Your son or daughter has free will and they may be having serious discussions with God about how they are going to express their faith.  If you have given them a good foundation they are likely to be making moral and right reasoned decisions about their faith life.  Experimentation is not a bad thing.  Saint Ignatius believed the only way to truly know God is to experience him, as scary as your young people experimenting may be it maybe just the right thing to bring him or her back to the church.

I am including J. D. Smalls’ Help Them Return Project.  From what I can find it is still being developed, but the project hopes to give tools and helps to parents of teen/young adult Catholics to bring them back to the Church.  There are some hoops to jump through to only find out you are on a list to know when it will be ready.  I mention it because I am not sure if Holy Spirit wants you to have it in your tool box or not, so, rather safe than sorry.

Spiritually blind

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

For three days, he was unable to see Acts 9:9

Saul sure has an encounter with Christ on the to road Damascus, knocks him right off his horse!  During my time as a mom, I have been knocked off my horse many a time.  Sometimes, like Saul, I am doing it to myself by how I perceive things or how I am reacting to things.  Like Saul, I may just have a certain experience of a situation that I angerly can not shake;  won’t shake.  I am emotionally and spiritually blind.  Or worst of all, I am just too tired from life to want to hear, see, be anymore.

How many times have we all said: “Well you opened my eyes!”  We aren’t physically blind, but emotionally/spiritually.

Emotional/Spiritual blindness has everything to do with the heart.   “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them..” Matthew 13:15  We can become so involved with the mundane aspects of life, the tedium of troubles,  soul-crushing worries that we no longer can hear God, see God or feel God’s presence.  Does all that life close our eyes does to wear us down? Do we stop hearing that soft, small whispered voice of God because of the cacophony of noise from gossip, negative talk, depressing news?  Or do we hear God but just ignore Him because His message is too hard to accept: that we are loved, that we have a purpose larger than the world, that we are made wonderfully?

It is clear that Saul, before he became Paul, saw no use for the Christians.  They were upsetting Saul’s well-planned world.  His blindness came from prejudice.  His was not going to see any of the good that the Christians were doing.  He was not going to acknowledge God’s power, Jesus’ sovereignty.

Like Saul, we do the same thing.  Is time for us to become Paul?

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Hurry Up! It’s getting away!

The Spirit said to Philip, “Go and join up with that chariot.”

In the first reading today, Phillip feels/spiritually hears God calling him to take a desert route, not one he would normally take.  God has some important things to discuss with a certain Ethiopian eunuch, and He needs Phillip to do that talking.

Ever have that feeling; that you are being called to go and speak with someone for God?!

I am enjoying the Alpha group that is being held at a local parish near my home. Yesterday one of the women in my group related how she felt called to speak to someone but didn’t do it.  She felt that sharing what she had to say with that another person wasn’t going to be received well in a public space.  What she had to say wasn’t bad, so maybe the Spirit was telling her to wait for a better less public time to speak.

The word “go” is mentioned in the Bible 1,514 times.  We are encouraged to go tell, go invite, go make, now today we are being called to go join.

So what happens if we are called like Phillip was, to go join, but we demure? Does it mean that the opportunity is lost to us forever? No. It does give us be a moment to discern what is being done, how you are feeling about the call, the person, place or thing.

Like my friend, she had several important factors to consider.  First, who was around her and her friend when she felt called to speak? The subject is a private one and a matter of faith.  While in this small circle of fellow workers there is a person with a very negative attitude about faith and the Catholic expression of it.  Knowing this my friend could have said what she felt called to say and let the chips fall where they may, but she held off.  She held off to protect the person she needed to speak to from the slings and arrows that he did not need at the time.  She also denied ammo to the person who with the negative attitude; God was NOT calling my friend to deal with her, so it was the right course to leave that woman alone.

Next, she was considering the importance of the message.  It wasn’t a bad one, but it was a deep one; one that was going to take time to explore.  Deferring a calling like this speaks to wisdom and sensitivity.

What would happen if my friend just let the moment pass and ignored the call to speak out of fear.

Two things would likely happen.  The call does not disappear, so she may have the call visit her again, and again until in some manner it is cared for.  God never lets a situation go into oblivion.  He will find someone, if not you, or me, or my friend, to deal with it.

Secondly, if we ignore God’s calling for us to move in this world, we begin to lose momentum for us to move positively in this world.  We begin to hide.  Hiding from God is akin to hiding from the greatest of ourself, and we do this because we feel unworthy.  An attitude that God NEVER wants us to have.

With each step we take to speak boldly with love and gentleness we become stronger.  When we speak our story, heed the call we bring light into a dark world.

It is mercy I desire, and not sacrifice.

Sister Moms have you ever felt like everything you, everything, you did as a mom was just wrong!

As moms we all make mistakes.  But prayer, thought, seeking of knowledge and help is what God asks of us.  He does not want us to wallow in the past.  Wallow is the hurt of our hearts at what we have done.  He asks us to be strong, 2Tim 1-7, strong.














Mommy Mantra October 14, 2014: Gal 5: 1-6 “… stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery”
Paul speaks right to the heart of the matter, he is saying to the early Church don’t get caught up in the law it will only draw you away from what is important: Christ.

One of the many things that can draw us, as moms, away from Christ: the pursuit of perfectionism. There is no perfect mom. That is a myth that needs to die. The only thing it will lead to is competition. And competition leads to envy, which leads to gossip, which leads to superiority.

None of these are remotely helpful, Christian, or loving.

Spiritual Practice Tuesday: Gratitude

mottoSpiritual Practice Tuesday: Gratitude. In Scripture we see gratitude quite often; especially after someone has been healed, or a prayer answered. Break the word done to it’s component parts and you find that it means the state of being pleased, the state of thankfulness.

So who is thankful or pleased? First there is God who was pleased when we were made: Eph. 2:10. Secondly the examples of those who realized they had been healed or answered. This is an important group. These men and women understood who God/Jesus was, they got it: the giver of all good gifts.

For us to have gratitude we must acknowledge the gift and the giver.
And our gifts are not always what we expect. Some gifts come by way of lessons or situations which require us to move forward, release something giving it to God, or to gain something making us stronger. Look even closer, do you see the root of grace in gratitude?

Every Mass, every sacrament we participate in helps us build gratitude for what we have been given; even in those Mommy Moments when we step on yet another logo, or have a teen who considers chores not part of the parent child agreement.

I’ll pray for you, please pray for me


Saturday October 5, 2013 Inspirational Photo

598637_628673137155903_1354004392_n Luke 10: 17-24.

The 72 have returned with joy.  They have done what they have been given the power to do: heal, preach and what is the main focus of this Mommy Mantra; defeated the devil.

The Gospel of Luke says the 72 returned with their eyes ablaze, with such great excitement they could not contain themselves.

I say this photo on my FB timeline and thought of us immediately.  We are the 72 who are going to go out into the world and return with our eyes ablaze!